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Planning a Birthday Party in Costa Rica … How It All Began

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I grew up in Costa Rica.  My dad is one of eleven in his family and my mom is one of seven, so I grew up surrounded by lots of cousins, aunts, and our family’s friends.  Aunt Carmen, the oldest of my dad’s siblings, has always been extremely capable and well-connected; she’s the Vito Corleone (from “The Godfather” movies) in our family.  Anytime anyone had a problem, they went to visit Aunt Carmen and Uncle Arturo.  Do you need a doctor?  Call Aunt Carmen.  An architect?  Aunt Carmen.  An attorney?  Aunt Carmen.  A visa?  Aunt Carmen.
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Get the Look: Add Patina with Belgian Linens and French Dinnerware

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In the September 2010 issue of House Beautiful, there is a story about interior designer Penelope Bianchi’s house in Santa Barbara, California that really resonated with me.  As many of you know, at Gracious Style we really believe in buying timeless objects because we only want to own things that we’ll still love ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.
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Ten of My Favorite Summer Sale Items at 50% to 75% Off

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It can be hard to say goodbye to old friends.  Because every collection you see at Gracious Style was personally chosen for you, they all have a special place with us.  But things change, and eventually some things have to be discontinued.  That’s why each year we have a Summer Sale, where we put many of the collections we’ve loved for years at 50% to even 75% off.
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Cleaning Fine Linens: Ten Reasons Why We Love Le Blanc Linen Wash

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One of the questions we are asked most often at Gracious Style is, “What do you recommend for cleaning fine linens?”  And our answer is always Le Blanc Linen Wash.  There are many products out there for doing laundry, but here are ten reasons why we reach for Linen Wash again and again.

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Save Up to 75%: Gracious Style Summer Sale

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It’s that time of the year again!  I’m out looking for sales at all of my favorite stores, and I’m sure you’re doing the same thing.  So we’ve put together a summer sale at Gracious Style, with up to 75% off on our table linens, dinnerware, bed linens, and bath linens.  Quantities are limited, so be sure to shop early for the best selection.
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Bedroom Makeover: Dwell Studio and Benjamin Moore

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If you love paint as much as I do, you’re going to love this one…

We love what the super talented Christiane Lemieux has done with Benjamin Moore paints (if you don’t know Christiane, she’s the genius Founder/Creative Director behind DwellStudio; they make many of our cool, urban, and witty bed linens and accessories).
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What to Give: Wedding Gift Ideas from $25

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Erin Gates over at Elements of Style did a great post on her favorite outfits to wear to weddings this past Friday, so we thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite engagement, bridal shower, and wedding gifts from Gracious Style.
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As Seen in House Beautiful: Vero Linen Kitchen Towels

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We just received our July/August 2010 issue of House Beautiful (congratulations to new editor Newell Turner!), and we were thrilled to see our Libeco Home Vero Kitchen Towels featured in “The Best for the Kitchen” section.
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Little Luxuries for the Bath: Anali Hand-Painted Vanity Accessories

Baths are great fun to decorate because they are small and you can change the way they look in just a few minutes.
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Complete the Look: Clean and Simple Table Linens by Trina Turk

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My “Theory of Design”

One of the tricks to successful designs – whether you are thinking about stationery, a restaurant, or a home – is the presence of a common thread in the realization of an idea.  Think about your favorite stores – two of ours are Restoration Hardware and Williams-Sonoma Home – or your favorite movies (“Something’s Gotta Give”).  Within each one, isn’t there always a common theme that carries the message from beginning to end?

At Restoration, for example, the paint colors work with the linens and the bath towels, and the look of the products is consistent within each collection.  The same thing is true with movies.  In “Something’s Gotta Give,” it’s obvious that set decorator Beth Rubino (by the way, The Skirted Roundtable did a great interview with her) had very specific ideas for how the character of the house would be presented on film: a shingled house, simple rugs, white slipcovers, a slightly dented refrigerator door … in short, a metaphor for the busy, successful (yet human) character played by Diane Keaton.  This is how the pros do it, and it’s because it’s the most comforting and practical way to design for the long term.  So as you design your spaces, take some time to think about the big ideas: this way, everything you gather will end up going with everything else, rather than “Well, this looked great at the store but somehow I can’t make it work here.”

But here’s one caveat: the idea is to have things work with each other, rather than to match completely. The best designs are those that work individually, and then as a whole.  Certain designs, for example, work better in large expanses (like wallpaper or curtains) than they do on small pieces (like napkins).  Case in point: utilitarian items are most soothing when they are easily recognizable.  This is why most tubs are a creamy white rather than designed to match our toile shades.

Trina Turk’s Table Linens: An Example

As an example, take a look at the new collections of table linens designed by Trina Turk.  Although she is known for her bold, graphic designs (which we think work well on pillows and rugs), we really appreciated that she took the time to scale them back for the table.  The fact is that the best designs for the table are simple.  There is something soothing and very clean about a white napkin that just doesn’t come across with a busy pattern.  So kudos to Trina for coming up with a collection that complements – rather than copies – her other items for the home, and that is just right for the table.

Here are the collections;  all embroidered on 100% cotton and completely machine washable.  Every piece is under $30 each.

The Palm Springs is a new classic; available in yellow or black:

Trina Turk Palm Springs Table Linens

Oval Sun is a retro motif in orange or turquoise:

Trina Turk Oval Sun Table Linens

And Tiki is great in green or turquoise.

Trina Turk Tiki Table Linens

Have fun in the sun!

Gracious Style is an online retailer of sophisticated, high-quality products for every room in the house.  We love helping others create warm and welcoming rooms for themselves.  To read more, visit our blog.

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